Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Philippe de Létombe, 27 July 1801

To Philippe de Létombe

Washington July 27. 1801

Dear Sir

Purposing to set out in a few days for Virginia, where I mean to pass the months of August & September, & presuming that before my return you will be departed for Europe, I avail myself of a few moments to bid you farewell. the Secretary of state will express to you officially the sense we have entertained of the manner in which you have discharged your functions here, but I feel that I should not be contented with myself were I to permit you to depart without adding my private and particular assurances of attachment. I have now known you seventeen years. through a considerable portion of the time my public duties have kept me in relation with you. I have found you ever attentive to the interests & the rights of your own country & fellow citizens in the first place, but just and accomodating to the rights and the convenience [of] those with whom you had to transact them. the stile of your applications has been such as always to produce a desire to comply with them: & your conduct in society has attached to you as much private esteem as your public transactions have of respect and satisfaction. it is with sincere regret therefore that we see you leaving our shores, no more to return to us. if it shall promote to your personal interests & happiness, it will be a great consolation to us. no one wishes this m[ore] than myself, & that your country may duly reward a life spent usefully in their service. I shall be anxious to learn that after a pleasant voyage you may have a happy meeting with your friends and kind reception by your employers. from myself be pleased to accept assurances of my sincere esteem & attachment, & of my high consideration & regard.

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); faint; at foot of text: “M. Le Tombe.” Enclosed in TJ to Létombe, 29 July.

The secretary of state wrote Létombe a valedictory letter from Virginia dated 25 Aug. (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins J. C. A. Stagg, ed., The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, Charlottesville, 1986–, 8 vols. description ends , 2:66).

Seventeen Years: Létombe arrived in the United States in 1781 as French consul for New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. He was made consul general that year, and apparently he and TJ became acquainted around the time that TJ went to France in 1784. They certainly knew one another by 1786, when Létombe, who had been in France for a year on leave, carried some correspondence to the United States for TJ. Recalled to France in 1792, Létombe returned to the U.S. as consul general in 1795 and was named minister plenipotentiary in 1797 (Abraham P. Nasatir and Gary Elwyn Monell, French Consuls in the United States: A Calendar of their Correspondence in the Archives Nationales [Washington, 1967], 563; Vol. 10:191).

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